The Pending Donors Conference On Liberia - What Is At Stake?

By G. Aagon Linford

The Perspective
Atlanta, Georgia

January 21, 2004

The slow pace of the of the Disarmament and Demobilization programs in Liberia could deny the country the most needed help from donors. The donor countries and organization are demanding the total and comprehensive disarmament and demobilization of all warring factions before any financial assistance to Liberia. As Chairman Bryant prepares a high-level Liberian Government delegation for the pending Donors Conference on Liberia scheduled to be held in New York early February, the snail pace of the D&D Programs is visibly becoming a logjam that needs to be removed if Liberia is to benefit from any financial assistance from this confab.

The demands by the donor countries and organizations are quite in place owing to recent development within the rank and file of the largest rebel group LURD and other problems that may surface as a result of the delay in the process. The international community and the GOL alike must prioritise and speed up the D&D Programs if they want to win the trust and confidence of donors. In the state of uncertainty, no group donors will risk to provide funds or other incentives. Military delay is dangerous.

Chairman Bryant has already heeded the call and has assured the donors that their assistance
will be used for its intended purpose with full accountability and transparency. But with no significant progress so far in the process except for the deployment of troops around the country and at border points, how can the GOL convince the donors at the pending confab? Let’s not forget that the host and major donor country, the United States of America recently issued travel warning to its citizens wishing to travel to Liberia because of what the States Department termed “uncertain security situation”. Can the GOL of Liberia provide convincing evidence to the U.S. that the security has improved? These are issues the GOL needs to consider and properly defend at the conference in February in New York.

I read with dismay that Liberian Law makers rejected the list of delegates from the Executive Mansion because it did not include certain names they want. Instead of soberly reflecting on what the donors require of the GOL in order to make good their assistance, the lawmakers most of whom are key members of the factions are demanding larger number in the delegation to New York. I think these honourables should be focusing on fostering the D&D, the major recipe for a peaceful Liberia in which they can serve lawmakers. They should be passing bills that will empower the interim administration decisively deal with the situation in Liberia.

Evidently, there is little that can be achieved between now and early February regarding the disarmament before the Donors Conference convenes. But one good thing is that the major players in the peace process and reconstruction programs for Liberia, like the U.S. and the EU among others, are the facilitators of the confab. With the presence of their representatives on the ground, they process will remain on course.

As the Liberian delegation heads to New York with the “Reconstruction Package” for Liberia, let us all (Liberians) both at home and abroad, especially the factions to the conflict adapt a positive attitude that will convince the international community to provide the necessary assistance for the reconstruction of our nation. We as a people have suffered for so many years and have learnt hard and unforgettable lessons from our mistakes of the past. Let us do away with actions that will stall and or create an impasse in the process in Liberia.

We hope for better results from the donors conference in New York.

About the author: The author is a Liberian journalist resident in the Royal Kingdom of